Here are 2 of my attempts at portrait drawings (25 minute sessions) from this Monday night “life drawing” class. We did portraits of a beautiful high school volleyball player who sat real still, which makes the drawing or painting much easier on all of us.
When I started going in January 2021, I was terrible. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get a likeness of the model. Now, things are improving. It is amazing what a little practice can do.
This class is an artist date night for me. I get to see fellow artists and visit with what is important to us. We are a fun group of artist’s and we have all become friends. We meet for a three hour life drawing session with a live model every Monday evening at Terry Lee’s studio in Coeur d’Alene, ID. However thanks to good old COVID, attendance dropped, so we changed to 2 Monday’s each month for the rest of the summer. You can contact Terry at the link above or myself anytime if you’d like to come join us. There is nothing more challenging to draw than the human form.
We had wonderful models on Monday evening life drawing these past two weeks. Last week, the male model posed in different positions for 25 minute sets and here is my best out of the group of pencil drawings from the evening.
The next week we had a female model posing for portrait night. This is where we have the same pose for all three hours. The model takes a break after 25 minutes and then comes back to the same position again after the break, throughout the 3 hour session. Here is the best portrait rendered in charcoal, from a group of three drawings for the night.
It is amazing how challenging it is to draw the human figure. A slight change in angle or lighting makes the drawing totally different. I dearly love the time spent at Terry Lee’s studio in Coeur d’Alene ID. Talking with the other artists and seeing everyone’s work is a true inspiration. We have artists working in watercolor, oils, pencil, and acrylics. There is a collection of some real talented local artists. Sometimes, I feel like I have just finished doing a 5 mile run after three hours of intense drawing, but it improves my drawing every time.
A lot of my images are gift inspirations from my dreams. A vivid dream occurs with an image or sound and even sometimes words spoken, and if I am lucky it flashes through my mind right as I wake up. Then I run down to the studio to put it down on paper before it fades away. This pencil sketch is one of those dreams.
I went to bed worried about the state of the world asking, “What am I going to do Lord?”. You know, one of those times when the world’s troubles monopolize your mind making it impossible to feel any serenity.
Be careful when you ask the Man Upstairs for advise, cause you usually get a real direct reply. This was a reply with Him standing in the wind saying, “Don’t loose your Focus!” as He reached out to me and right then, a bright white dove returned home to sit on His hand. His eye had a great sparkle that extended out making everything bright. Right then I knew everything would be alright.
Steps to do a pencil rendering of that dream. I first sketch out a very preliminary layout moving items here and there to get the basic idea down. I begin to search my image files and the internet for references for the hand position, and the facial expression. Next is a search for a flying dove image in my reference books and online. With the help of Photoshop I am able to build a layout to work from that fits what I remember.
Here is a pencil portrait drawn from pictures of a friend when the family cam out to visit. Her picture was just so perfect I had to see if I could capture her with a sketch. I think I have pretty much got her personality here. I love her fabulous bone structure and so very very photogenic.
Serendipity or is it just part of the plan? Yesterday I completed a pencil sketch of items noticed on my window sill and desk in the studio. Three items just happened to be right in front of me and it was a little freaky because….they made me think.
First off, that saying really caught my eye because it s a thought I have had a lot of lately. Next to this contradictable saying sets an old fashioned “source of light” (God). A light source that lights our way when the electricity is out at our home. You can see that both of these items rest on top of my bible lying on the desk.
Many of my paintings and drawings are derived from dreams from the night before. If I go to bed with something bothering me, I can look forward to finding answers in visions and thoughts arriving vividly with full color and brightness.
I am finishing this dahlia closeup watercolor this week. Here are 6 progressive shots of the painting’s progress.
12″w x 13″h watercolor on 300lb Arches paper.I establish the layout with a pencil sketch .
Starting with a background wash of alizaron crimson I begin to apply highlight color washes on the leaves, then progress to the light washes on the flowers.
Various shades of green and gray are applied to the leaves in the background.
The next step is, to bring up the intensity of the colors in the blossoms by applying bright layers.
To complete this piece, there is very little work remaining to be done . The process becomes a back and forth balancing act from here. I apply the darks and shadows. Followed by accentuating the lights until I get the look I want.
I will be sure to share the finished painting in the near future.
The previous post was photographs of the first crocus buds appearing 4.14.2019, following these are the first plein air paintings in a new sketchbook of these purple & white buds. A new 50 page 7″ x 5″ 130lb watercolor sketchbook inspires sketching to begin.
I have not done this kind of on-the-spot painting in a while and the blossoms seem a little rough. Next, here are some shots of the bright blossoms today. Check out the sleepy, little fuzzy guy in the blossom. Bzzzzz said the bee. He really is lethargic in the cool spring air but already covered with pollen.
Aren’t the colors vibrant?
Happy Easter…. from me to you, with crocus plein air sketches in the yard today.
First sketch seems a bit mushy but the second one is getting to be a style I could really come to love. Let me know what you think….
A muley doe pauses at the treeline in Glacier Lake National Park in Montana. This was one of my first encounters with wildlife. Moments like this are like gifts from God and nature.
A gift of pristine wildlife standing still for a portrait at very close range.
Initially, the portrait starts with a pencil sketch drawn from my photograph.
Apply Washes to Doe
Next I begin to wash-in large areas, reaching more for correct values than finished colors. I actually squint my eyes to see where the darks and lights are. The areas kind of blur together and show up better that way. I have been fortunate to have taken classes from talented artists, and one that I have been inspired by is Stan Miller who teaches watercolor and that it is the values that are more important than the colors and he is so right!
Adding sky background and foliage along with some of the dark values to the doe face and eyes starts to show the personality that I envision.
Muley Doe Details
Things slow a bit as I work on the details of the deer. Focus is on the doe features and her background and I am being careful to leave white limbs from the tree behind.
Progress is gradual as I add shadows to show where the tree trunk and limbs are, along with a ground tone wash to bring in a base for her to stand on. It is not good to have her floating above the ground.
Finally, I am getting more done as I add more details. First, some lights followed by some darks. Using an Azo Yellow, I am careful applying the final wash. The whole painting is brightened up with the final wash and the greenery and her fur now have a much better glow.
Here she is, je suis fini!
A watercolor painting of a Glacier Lake National Park Muley Doe posing for the artist with her camera in the summer of 1990. Check out the beauty in this park. The picture was taken in the park at the top of Logan pass.